Art facilitates the expression of an individual’s feelings and ideas. Within the regular curriculum, art is no longer mandatory once students reach the higher grades. Furthermore, art is only applied within the context of other academic subjects or limited in its scope of application, such as being restricted to creating posters or pamphlets. However, for students with special needs, art should continue to be emphasized, as a means of facilitating the integration of academic material within the curriculum of special ed schools. Given that art is an expression of one’s feelings and ideas, it makes the material being taught relevant to an individual’s real life experiences.
Accordingly, Vize (2010) stated that art is a great subject to emphasize among students with special needs, as it promotes the development of literacy, numeracy, communication, creativity, as well as, social skills. Art promotes the development of literacy because academic material can both be integrated with and reflect and/or express the student’s emotions and personal experience. Art can also help sustain the student’s efforts and determination as it helps them appreciate the effort that is exerted, as well as, providing them with a hope for future success. The communication of ideas can also be facilitated through the use of art, which could also be a valuable assessment tool for learning, as opposed to standard testing. Furthermore, art can optimize student’s development and appreciation of their artistic abilities, as well as, promoting the development of cognitive and decision-making skills. Finally, by helping students express themselves art can promote significant improvement in social skills, which in turn facilitates communication between students and teachers and among peers.
Despite the great number of skills that can be facilitated through the use of art, it is at the teacher’s discretion as to how art will be used to optimize learning for students with special needs. Accordingly, it has been suggested that the preferential use of creative activities is determined by a plethora of factors, including the teacher’s assessment of the capabilities of their students and the nature of the activity itself. Through the use of appropriate artistic activities students can gain great satisfaction, which is derived from successfully completing tasks on their own (www.kinderart.com, 2011). The diversity inherent in art can help teachers discover their students’ strengths and talents, as well as, helping students appreciate their own abilities. This can be especially beneficial with students in special ed schools, as it facilitates the integration of academic material and the development of social skills that are necessary for effective communication.
In conclusion, special education art, for special education art and art in special education can optimize learning by helping students express their feelings, which helps them understand and integrate academic material within the context of their real life experiences. Through art, teachers can assess their students holistically and gain a greater understanding of their emotions and psychological needs. As a creative approach to learning, art can help teachers maintain their student’s interest facilitating learning and making the learning experience enjoyable for the student.
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